What is the best Andalusia itinerary? And what are the best things to do in Andalusia? These are questions we asked ourselves before our first and also our second trip to Andalusia. There are many sights to discover on the coast and in the mountains, which are best approached within 1-2 weeks with a rental car. Our own Andalusia trip was divided into 2 trips. First we spent a few days east of Malaga, then a few weeks later we visited the west of Malaga to Cadiz. With our experiences from these two road trips we have put together an itinerary through Andalusia for 1-2 weeks.
We are Sabrina and Andreas, two adventurous travelers who never miss an opportunity to discover the world. Whether by plane to distant countries or with our campervan Bruno, we just love to travel. We hope to give you helpful tips for your next trip on our blog.
Sabrina & Andreas Globetrotters, Travelers, Adventurers
How To Travel in Andalusia?
We took a flight to the largest airport in Andalusia in just under 3 hours. In advance we booked a cheap convertible (I think a convertible is just a huge plus in sunny countries! We have also already in Croatia noticed) and were lucky enough to be upgraded to a BMW M2 convertible with leather seats and sports equipment. These were the best conditions for our Andalusia trip. You have to be lucky in life!
Even though we traveled as a couple from our point of vie Andalusia is one of best places for solo travel in Europe. Europe and especially Spain is very safe for traveling even as a female traveler.
Overnight Stay During an Andalusia Trip
For our Andalusia travel we chose a very special accommodation on our travel route. A lonely, detached house in the middle of the mountains. We didn’t have a real pool and the sea was quite far away, but we had peace, seclusion and a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains. Our muy bueno casa was really all alone on a hill and could only be reached via a bumpy gravel road from the village in the valley.
Down in the village there was only one restaurant and a very small supermarket. But the stay there was pure relaxation. We ate breakfast on our balcony with an unobstructed view to the south, and in the evening we sat in the Hollywood swing on the terrace and looked north. The crickets chirped around us and in the distance a donkey repeatedly loudly spoke up!
The way from the highway to the house was also phenomenal. The numerous curves invited to drive fast and even if Sabrina tried to make clear to me with an insistent look that she does not like my driving style, I could not deny myself the one or other fast curve.
When is the Best Time to Travel to Andalusia?
Andalusia can be visited all year round, but especially in the period from November to March you have to expect rain. The best months for an Andalusia trip are between April and June and September to October. During this time the climate is pleasantly warm and not too hot.
How Warm is it in Andalusia?
From November to April the temperatures are around 10-20 degrees, although it can rain more often during this time. May to June and September to October the temperatures are mostly around 15-25 degrees with about 10 hours of sunshine a day. The hottest months are July and August with 20 to over 30 degrees. The heat can be very oppressive during this time.
What are the Most Beautiful Destinations in Andalusia?
Andalusia in the south of Spain has a lot of different sights and highlights to offer. From the small towns with their narrow streets, the national parks with the mountains of the Sierra Nevada and the beautiful beaches on the Mediterranean Sea, there are more than enough destinations for a round trip through Andalusia for all interests.
The itinerary of our Andalusia road trip can be found here:
From Malaga, our first stop on our Andalusia trip was the town of Nerja within 1 hour. If you have enough time on your holiday you can also stay in Malaga for a couple of hours, as the are a lot of things to do in Malaga. The small coastal town of Nerja is famous among other things for the Balcón de Europa and the beach directly below. We parked in the nearby and eponymous underground garage (Google Maps link) and walked 10 minutes to the promenade.
Day 1 | Andalusia Destinations: Nerja
Balcón de Europe
The Balcón de Europe is a rocky outcrop overlooking the Playa de la Calahonda beach below, the sea and the coast of Andalusia. While standing on the top of the cliff with the coastal wind blowing through your hair, you are completely captivated by the sight of the cliffs and the rushing sea. Along the Balcon de Europa, the coastal promenade also invites you to take a stroll, which can then be finished in the picturesque old town.
Playa de la Calahonda
The old town of Nerja captivates with its narrow streets, houses decorated with flowers, restaurants and tapas bars, which make the Andalusian flair perfect. If you don’t feel like strolling around, you can also spend your time sunbathing on the beach. The beach Playa de la Calahonda can be reached directly from the Balcón de Europa via a small path that winds down along the rock face.
If you don’t turn off to the beach, you can walk along the lower part of the cliff wall and watch the big rocks and the rushing sea. While it is quite crowded at the top of the Balcón de Europa, here you have a bit more peace and quiet to enjoy the intoxicating atmosphere.
Hotel Recommendation in Nerja
Quiet and outside
In Nerja we can recommend the cozy Bed & Breakfast La Casa del Burro*. In the midst of mango trees, with a view of the sea and close to the nature reserve Sierras de Tejeda, Almijara y Alhama, you can just relax and enjoy the pool.
The B&B La Casa del Burro on Booking.com*
Central, cheap and beautiful
If you want to be more central and also cheaper we can recommend the Hostal Boutique Plaza Cantarero* directly in Nerja. The rooms are newly renovated and lovingly furnished. The highlight, however, is the roof terrace from which you have a wonderful view of the surrounding area.
The Hostel Plaza Cantarero on Booking.com*
Day 2 | Cueva de Nerja stalactite cave
Near Nerja there is also a stalactite cave with extraordinary stalactites and stalagmites, the Cueva de Nerja. Besides the stalactites, the cave is also known for its Stone Age paintings. The cave is located about 6 km inland near the village of Maro. If you are traveling by rental car, you can reach the cave quite quickly. In the summer there are concerts in the cave.
All information about the cave can be found here: Cueva de Nerja
Nerja is generally suitable as a good starting point on an Andalusia itinerary for further trips to the Sierra Nevada, Granada or the surrounding mountain villages. All destinations can be reached in a maximum of 2 hours by rental car.
Day 3 | River Hike in the Rio Chillar
The next day we wanted to take it a bit slower and didn’t plan so much. Actually only one hike, but it turned out to be one of the most impressive hikes we both have ever done. You walk the whole time on this hike through the Rio Chillar, a river that empties into the sea at Nerja. Most of the time the river is only about ankle deep.
It goes through a fabulously blooming natural scenery past waterfalls and partly even through narrow gorges, which are less than 2 meters wide at the narrowest point and certainly 30-50 meters high. Every now and then there is a deep spot where you can dive completely into the water if it should be too hot during lunchtime. All information about the hike at Rio Chillar can be found here:Foot Hike in Rio Chillar
Day 4 + 5 | Sierra Nevada
On day 5 of our Andalusia trip we drove to the next destination in southern Spain … the Sierra Nevada. More precisely, to the small mountain village of Pampaneira on the edge of this mountain range.
After about 1 hour drive with the rental car through the beautiful, winding roads of Andalusia with a view of the still snow-covered peaks of the Sierra Nevada, we reached the, inhabited by only about 350 people, mountain village. This village is reasonably touristy, there are some restaurants and cafes and of course the obligatory souvenir stores. The specialty to buy there are hand knotted carpets. You can find them in every store and they are available for little money.
The houses in the village are terraced and all white. This gives a nice contrast to the surrounding green covered mountains.
Hiking in the Sierra Nevada
The picturesque landscape surrounding the villages is predestined for hiking. Conveniently, the 3 villages of Pampaneira, Capileira and Bubion are connected by hiking trails and are so close to each other that it is possible to visit all the villages in one day on foot. The total walking distance is 11 km and you need about 4 hours. More information with GPS data can be found here:
Hotel Recommendation in the Sierra Nevada
You should not miss to spend a night in the Sierra Nevada. Either you book directly a lonely mountain hut or you look for a cozy hotel with a view. We can recommend La Almunia del Valle*. The food is fantastic, the view of the Sierra Nevada absolutely impressive and in the beautiful garden with pool you can relax perfectly. And the next day you can be in Granada within 15 minutes.
La Almunia del Valle on Booking.com*
Day 6 | Alhambra in Granada
On the next day of the Andalusia trip, we headed to Granada by rental car. The Alhambra in Granada is an ancient Moorish fortress and one of the most visited sights in Spain. Tickets must be reserved in advance on the internet and you should look for tickets a few weeks before your planned trip to Andalusia. We bought our tickets about 4 weeks in advance.
Parking at the Alhambra
From one of the numerous paid parking lots (Google Maps link), which are located south of the Alhambra, you walk about 10 minutes to the entrance of the site. From there it is another 15 minutes to the entrance of the Nasrid Palace, for which you have booked the ticket with a fixed time. So you should make sure to be at the parking lot 30 minutes before. Otherwise it could be tight, because you should be there on time.
Unfortunately, we didn’t really find the Nazarite Palace itself that impressive. There are of course some cool photo spots and the architecture is also very nice to look at, but for us it was not worth all the stress (to be at the entrance at the exact time to then squeeze with 300 other tourists through the narrow palace). We found strolling through the other areas of the Alhambra (outside the palace) much more pleasant.
The area is very extensive and offers every now and then a great view down on Granada. Unfortunately, we can’t recommend the Nasrid Palace if you are not totally interested in culture. We would not go there again.
Maybe you can visit the Alhambra completely free of charge
On the way back to the parking lot, we left the area through a side entrance that was neither guarded nor otherwise restricted. We could have just walked back in there. This leads us to believe that you can also visit the Alhambra completely free of charge. You can find the entrance (Puerta de la Justicia) we are referring to under the following Google Maps link.
Hotel Recommendation in Granada
Have you always wanted to stay in a modern apartment in a palace? Then you have the opportunity now. The great and spacious apartments are located directly in the center, so that you can reach many restaurants and bars within a few minutes. In addition, from the Palacio Cabrera – Lillo* you can reach many sights. Within 25 minutes you can even walk to the Alhambra.
Palacio Cabrera - Lillo on Booking.com*
Day 7 | Torcal de Antequerra National Park
A short hike in the Torcal del Antequerra Nature Park was supposed to be part of our first Andalusia itinerary. Didn’t work out … nevertheless we don’t want to withhold this tip from you. The nature park captivates by its countless, different rock formations, which meet one on the altogether three footpaths. The trails differ mainly by their length, so that there is something for everyone.
The hiking trails in the Torcal del Antequerra
- The “green” hiking trail in the Torcal del Antequerra is the shortest hiking trail with a length of about 1.5 hours. It starts on the right side of the visitor center and ends on the left side of the visitor center.
- The “yellow” hiking trail is with 3 kilometers twice as long as the green one and can be walked within about 2 hours. The start and end points are also next to the visitor center. The yellow trail offers spectacular views all the way to the coast in good weather.
- Unfortunately, the third hiking trail may only be walked with a guide. The 4.5 km tour is offered on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from 10 am for a fee of 10 Euro.
- More information in Spanish and English can be found at http://www.torcaldeantequera.com/
As mentioned before, we actually wanted to walk along the yellow or green path… but as it is always the case, you plan in detail and then everything comes differently. We got lost on our route with the rental car and took much longer for grocery shopping than expected. So unfortunately we decided to skip the hike and go directly to our lonely mountain hut in Coripe to spend the evening there.
Andalusia Travel | Itinerary for 1 Week
If you spend only one week in Andalusia you can drive back to Malaga after your visited the National Park Torcal del Antequerra. The driving time is only 1 hour and you are already back at the airport. If you have a few more days, your Andalusia trip continues at day 8. It is best to drive directly to the Caminito del Rey to start your hike the next day.
Hotel Recommendation near the Caminito del Rey
Almost nothing more needs to be said about the picture. The panoramic view from the terrace of the Complejo Turistico La Garganta* is simply beautiful, so that you can relax here perfectly after the hike. The hotel simply has a lot of charm due to the loving and rustic details and there is an excellent breakfast.
Complejo Turistico La Garganta on Booking.com*
Day 8 | Caminito del Rey
One highlight of our road trip through Andalusia that we were particularly looking forward to was the hike along the Caminito del Rey, the King’s Trail. The hike leads on boardwalks through the canyons of the Garganta del Chorro near Malaga. You can find all the details here in a separate article. But we already want to give you an important hint.
You have to buy the tickets online several weeks in advance. The hike is usually sold out several weeks in advance. Spontaneously drive there and go hiking, unfortunately, is not possible. The Caminito del Rey tickets themselves can be booked online*.
Get your Ticket to Camino del Rey | Check Availability*
Day 9 | Ronda
On day 9 the Andalusia itinerary leads you to Ronda. Ronda is on of the most beautiful landscapes in Spain. The small town is located at a breathtaking gorge in the province of Malaga, which separates the new and the old town of Ronda. Across the gorge leads the Puente Nuevo, which is the landmark and tourist attraction of Ronda… and that is exactly why it is extremely touristy and crowded here. We were there around 10am and it was already pretty crowded.
It’s best to visit Ronda even earlier in the morning to take in the unique atmosphere. Because apart from the many tourists, the gorge with the stone bridge and its four archways is absolutely worth seeing. Especially in summer, the yellow-brown cliffs of the gorge and the bridge form a perfect contrast to the bright blue sky and thus a great photo spot.
Besides this sight, Ronda offers the following highlights:
Cathedral Santa Maria la Mayor
At the town hall square in the old town you will find the cathedral from the 5th century. The cathedral was often rebuilt and partly converted. For example, it was used as a mosque for a while. Nevertheless, the impressive building still has much of the original Gothic style. To visit the cathedral you have to pay an entrance fee of 4 € per person.
The Arab Baths | Baños Arabes
From the shopping street you can reach the Arab baths in about 10 minutes via the Puente Viejo. Since the path runs along the cliffs, you have a great view of the surrounding landscape. The baths, which date back to the 13th century, are located in the San Miguel district. Here you get a good insight into how people recovered hundreds of years ago. To visit the baths you have to pay 3.50 Euro.
- Tip: Admission is free on Tuesdays from 3 p.m. onwards
- More info: http://www.andalucia.org/
Hotel Recommendation in Ronda
If you stay overnight in Ronda, you should also have a view of the main sight. At Hotel Montelirio* you will sleep in luxurious rooms and have a breathtaking view of the gorge and the bridge in Ronda. Especially in the evening you have a wonderful view, when everything is illuminated by the lights. You should also not miss the delicious food at the hotel.
Hotel Montelirio on Booking.com*
Day 10 | Sierra de Grazalema
Sierra Grazalema Nature Park was definitely one of our highlights of our Andalusia itinerary. We ended up here by chance at a spot on one of the best viewpoints we have ever seen. From the Mirador Puerto de las Palomas, at an elevation of about 1360 meters, we had a 360 degree panoramic view of the surrounding valleys, mountains and the birds of prey gliding along. And the best part… we were completely alone. On the ride with the rental car to the viewpoint, we only encountered a few motorcyclists.
When you park your rental car at the small parking lot of the viewpoint you have to go up the hill through a big iron gate. It looks like private property at first, but you can just walk through the gate and then walk uphill for about 20 minutes. At the top there is a small run-down weather station and a magnificent view of 2 valleys reveals itself.
In addition, we could see an incredible number of eagles soaring through the hot air almost at the same altitude as us. On one side the hill drops flat towards the lake and on the other side there is a steep rocky edge, so that the valley opens up in front of you quite suddenly and impressively. The Sierra de Grazalema is also perfect for a lot of hiking. You can find an overview here:
Hotel Recommendation in Cadiz
In Cadiz we can recommend the apartments at Plaza Mina Suites*. It is best to book 2 nights here. Here you will find modern, bright apartments in which you can cater for yourself. In the evening you can relax on the roof terrace and enjoy the view over Cadiz in the sunset.
Apartments Plaza Mina Suites on Booking.com*
Day 11 | Cadiz
Cadiz, in southwestern Andalusia, is located on a promontory enclosed by the sea. The combination of the historic old town of the provincial capital, the immediate location by the sea and the sights make Cadiz a great and varied destination for a day trip during an Andalusia itinerary. Which highlights there are to discover in Cadiz you can read in this blogpost:Highlights in Cadiz
On the way from Cadiz to Tarifa, it’s worth making a stop in Vejer de la Frontera. The small, white town is enthroned with its castle on a 190 m high hill and enchants you already on the approach.
Day 12 | Tarifa
On day 12 of the Andalusia itinerary we visited Tarifa. The coastal town is special for the reason that it is the southernmost tip of Europe and from there you can see as far as Africa. That itself would be a reason to come to Tarifa. But we especially liked the atmosphere there. The place is a mecca for surfers and kitesurfers and that is exactly what you feel when you are there.
The place and the people just exude a relaxed and laid back vibe that you immediately embrace and there are so many great things to do in Tarifa. We were lucky that during our visit there was a street festival and so we could look for small souvenirs at the different booths and in the small stores. The proximity to Morocco has the advantage that you can take a ferry from here. If you have enough time on your Andalusia trip, make a day trip to Morocco. But be sure to bring your passport!
Whale and Dolphin Watching
Another option for a boat trip is the whale and dolphin watching. Due to the high population of whales and dolphins, the is a high chance to see some of these beautiful animals. However, you should take a close look at the ratings of the individual providers to make sure that the whales and dolphins are not hunted.
Torre de Guadalmesí
Also in Tarifa a little hike should not be missing… and so we decided after a short research to go to the Torre de Guadalmesí. The special thing here is that the tower is located on a former military area and you are warned again and again by signs not to enter the area.
One is warned directly already with the entrance on the area, so that we stopped and asked ourselves “Should we really drive here? Is this really the right way?” After a few minutes, however, a couple of other people came and turned onto the path without thinking twice. That was enough to convince us and we drove on as well. At the end of the road is the tower built in 1588 under King Philip II of Spain in the mouth of the Guadalmesí River.
Around the tower are some ruined houses, perhaps once used by a military task force. The view from the rugged coast to the opposite African continent is fascinating. It seems so close that you almost think you can swim across.
Hotel Recommendation in Tarifa
In Tarifa we can recommend the Hotel Misiana*. The hotel is located in the middle of the old town and is therefore super central. The rooms are modern and super cozy. There is also a great roof terrace with loungers and seating, where you can perfectly end the evening.
The Hotel Misiana on Booking.com*
Day 13 | Andalusia Itinerary – Los Alconorcales or Marbella
Slowly we are heading back towards Malaga. On the way along the coast you can make 2 stops. On the one hand, the national park Los Alconorcales offers itself for a visit, on the other hand, you could also discover the coastal metropolis Marbella.
The national park Los Alcornocales with its impressive cork oak forests is located directly at the Strait of Gibraltar and is easy to reach via Tarifa. In the nature park there are several hiking trails to discover. Unfortunately, we did not manage to visit Los Alconorcales during our road trip through Andalusia. If you have time for this, you can find a small overview of the possible hiking routes here.
On our way back to Malaga we made a small stopover in Marbella. And what can we say… we didn’t liked it that much. It was very crowded and touristy with huge hotels on the beach. Since we still had some time we strolled along the beach promenade and admired some of the luxurious yachts at the harbor. This one, small stopover in Marbella was enough for us, so we quickly drove on towards Malaga.
Hotel recommendation in Malaga
For the last evening of your Andalusia road trip we recommend a small accommodation directly at the beach. The last evening of such a trip you like to spend at the sea. The Hotel La Chancla* is away from the hustle and bustle of the city, but still central. Here you can relax again before the return trip. Directly on the beach, roof terrace, great food, cozy rooms and in front of the nose the great beach promenade. It almost doesn’t get any more perfect than this.
The Hotel La Chancla on Booking.com*
Day 14 | Return to Malaga
On the last day we drove back to Malaga. Since we wanted to enjoy a little time at the beach on the last day we drove towards Nerja and the Playa de Maro. The small beach section is embedded between the rocks of the coast and seems to be generally well visited. We enjoyed the last hours with the sound of the sea and a cooling in the sea before we finally went back towards Malaga.
Andalusia Itinerary | Our Conclusion
Whether for two weeks or just a few days, Andalusia is definitely worth a trip. The south of Spain is very diverse and offers many different destinations. Especially nature lovers, hikers or cyclists get their money’s worth here. You should explore Andalusia in any case with a rental car. This way you are flexible and can also stop again and again during the trips to enjoy the breathtaking nature between the individual destinations.
Do you have any questions or ideas about our road trip Andalusia with a rental car? Write us a comment!